• Fitment Issues with Stamped Patch Panels

    In the past finding replacement body panels for a classic or antique car was very challenging, usually they would have to be taken off of a broken down or wrecked car.  If you could find one it was great because its sure to fit as long as its not damaged.  Present day those old cars are becoming harder and harder to find and the junk yards are filling with late model imports.



    Companies like Auto Metal Direct (AMD) and Classic Industries have opened up a new market by offering brand new stamped panels for hundreds of cars all the way back into the 1930's.  These two are by far the leaders in the business because their parts have been fine tuned to have the best fitment and their higher prices reflect the quality.


    Are There Other Options?

    Budget builders have found some relief because there are a few companies that offer the same parts but at a much lower cost, the only issue with these is that they have a reputation of not fitting the way they should.

    If you're on a budget and have some metal fab and bodywork experience, the cheaper route may be the way to go. You are still getting brand new metal that is meant for your vehicle.  These panels will  be very close but may not have the exact body lines, missing mounting holes, and sometimes be slightly too long or too short.

    Camaro Freak, on the Hotrodders.com forum, had these same issues with a new driver side door for his 69' Camaro.



    After aligning the body lines with the front fender and rear quarter, the fitment was completely off.



    Along the front fender the door gap was tight at the top and grew wider as it got closer to the center body line.  Towards the bottom the door sits slightly inside the rocker and fender.  If you look closely the peak of the center body line is also a slightly different shape.



    There were similar problems where the door met the rear quarter panel.  The door edge above the handle mount looks like it is a different shape causing a larger gap along the top edge.


    Whats the Best Solution?

    nova hood

    Deciding which route to go can be difficult because there will be a trade off with both options.  It really depends on how much body work you want to put into the car, and how much you are looking to spend on the project.

    Depending on the part and how complex it is, the more expensive parts will be worth it in the long run. For example, if you need an entire fender or door skin the big name brands are the way to go because they will be the closest match to your car.  But if you just need a patch panel for a smaller area that does not intersect any body lines, the cheaper metal will save you a lot of money because you will need to do some fabrication anyways.

    If you run into any of these issues Eastwood has everything you need to fabricate and modify those patch panels to have the perfect fit.


    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW

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  • How To Install a Tri-Flow Radiator

    How To Install a Tri-Flow Radiator

    The new Eastwood Maxx-Power Tri-Flow aluminum radiators have been proven to keep a car 24 degrees cooler than a regular OEM brass and copper radiator. Their 3 pass design cools better than typical single pass aluminum radiators too. Getting this added cooling is easy though, thanks to their well thought out design features and easy installation.

    Maxx-Power Tri-Flow radiators come in 3 sizes, one of which will fit most American cars. Sturdy 11 inch by 2 inch mounting tabs TIG welded to the side tanks allow you to drill mounting holes to match your existing radiator support, or anywhere you prefer. Aluminum shrouds are specially made to mount an electric fan to each one, for a clean, simple all in one cooling system. A universal add on automatic transmission cooler is also offered, which works better than the old OEM internal cooler, for longer transmission life.

    Here’s how to find the right Tri-Flow Maxx-Power radiator:

    If the car has been running, be careful taking measurements as parts may be hot, and remember even once the engine is off the radiator can boil over and spray hot coolant.


    Tri-flow radiator 1

    Measure the existing radiator from edge to edge on the outside of the tanks.  This one is about 29 inches.

    Tri-flow radiator 2

    Then measure the overall height of the core, this one is 19 inches.  You also want to take into consideration the size of the opening where air gets to the core. The tanks are typically about the same size, but the core and tank dimensions are on the Eastwood site, if you click the “Download Full Specs” button.


    Tri-flow radiator 3

    Amazingly enough, just 3 sizes are enough to supply the majority of  American cars from the 50s through the 80s. Eastwood item #20152 is almost an exact match size wise for this Firebird.

    While ordering you should also consider getting the matching shroud and electric fan at the same time, though these radiators can be made to work with the factory fan and shroud as well.

    Besides a cooling system that isn’t cutting it, the 2 biggest causes of an engine running hot are too lean a fuel mixture, and retarded ignition timing. If those 2 things are not right the biggest radiator in the world is just a temporary fix to hide the problem. Make sure the mechanical and vacuum advance are functioning properly at the distributor. Make sure the engine doesn’t have an air leak from a disconnected vacuum line, or a leaking gasket. Look at the spark plugs for a lean mixture indicated by a light colored electrode.


    Now let’s put in the new radiator:

    For the sake of safety, you should be absolutely sure the engine and coolant is cold before you start messing with the cooling system. This is the sort of job that is best done in the morning, after the car has sat overnight.


    Tri-flow radiator 4

    Start by draining the coolant into a bucket, and disconnecting the hoses. Use a clean bucket because there is no reason not to reuse the coolant if it is clean.


    Tri-flow radiator 5

    Make things easier for yourself by removing anything that may get in the way: The battery, any core support braces, filler panels, the fan and the fan shroud. Disconnect and plug the line from the automatic transmission cooler, if you have one.


    Tri-flow radiator 6

    Now you can just unbolt the 4 to 6 bolts and remove the radiator. Sometime there is nothing more than 2 clips holding the top of it. Every car is different, but it’s pretty obvious how it comes out.


    Tri-flow radiator 11

    Test fit the new radiator and mark off anywhere that the mounting tabs will interfere with other parts or bumps in the radiator support.


    Tri-flow radiator 12


    Tri-flow radiator 13

    An easy trick to cut out rectangular shapes is to drill holes in the corners first with a bit about the size of your jigsaw blade. Then you just cut straight lines, and turn at the holes. Now you should be able to get the new radiator in close enough to mark off where your mounting bolt holes should be. You can also just put 4 new holes in the mounting tab and radiator support if you have to.


    Tri-flow radiator 15

    To make drilling the holes in the right spot easier, start with a small hole, then make it bigger.


    Tri-flow radiator 16

    Deburr the holes and edges with a file, the smooth them all off with a Sanding Disc on an Angle Grinder.


    Tri-flow radiator 18

    If you need to drill new holes in the radiator support sticking a strip of masking tape on it first will make it much easier to mark where to drill. You can use the hole you already drilled in the radiator mounting tabs as a template.


    Tri-flow radiator 17

    Installing the electric fan to the shroud is so simple it really doesn’t need explaining. The holes are already there, and the hardware is included.


    Tri-flow radiator 20
    Place the radiator in the bottom groove of the shroud, then just pop the top groove over the top of the radiator, and it clips into place. A line of RTV sealer along the top and bottom groove will keep it even tighter, and quiet any metal on metal rattles.


    Tri-flow radiator 21

    Put another line of RTV along the sides as well by gently prying it away from the tank.

    Tri-flow radiator 8
    If you are replacing a mechanical fan with the electric one you will need to replace the bolts that hold the fun/pulley to the motor with much shorter ones.


    Tri-flow radiator 9

    Use a dab of thread lock to keep them from loosening up, and snug it all back in.


    Tri-flow radiator 22

    Now you can bolt the radiator/shroud/fan unit into the car, and start reassembling anything else you took apart. Of course if you didn’t have an electric fan before you will need to wire it up, and likely with a temperature switch and relay.


    Tri-flow radiator 23

    Don’t forget to fill the car full of coolant!

    After swapping out the old single pass aluminum radiator, and mechanical fan for the Maxx-Power Tri-Pass set up and electric fan the car hit the streets and was cruising at 25 degrees cooler than before. Instead of a temp gauge in the 230 degree danger zone, it was now safely in the 210 to 215 range. 


    Tri-flow radiator 24
    The specially designed, divided tanks send the coolant through the core 3 times before it goes back into the motor to pick up more heat. It is no wonder that it cools so much better than old style one pass systems.


    Adding a Tri-Flow Radiator to your ride will ensure your engine is running cool no matter how hot it is outside.



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  • Cracked Grill Repair - Eastwood Hot Stapler

    Many late model cars are made with plastic grills, bumpers, and interior trim.  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this but the one area they lack is in their strength, even the slighest fender bender can cause them to crack or break off.  Not to mention that as plastic ages it can become weaker.  If you've ever tried, super glue will never hold the pieces together so repairing with that is out of the question.  Eastwood has a permanent way to repair your plastic interior and exterior parts and save you from having to buy new.  The Eastwood Hot Stapler allows you to re-attach the broken pieces by bridging the crack with a metal staple.  It doesn't just hold the two pieces together it fuses into the plastic by melting into both sides.


    Photo Oct 14, 2 28 08 PM

    The grill of this 2000 Silverado was damaged when a piece of mud was thrown off of another cars tire.  A new chrome grill for this truck costs around $100, this might not seem like much but depending on your car it may not be easy to locate replacement parts.



    After removing the clips that hold the grill to the radiator support, I was able to take the grill off and bring it into the shop.  The damage was actually a little worse than I had originally thought because the lower black plastic was completely gone.



    I removed the plastic tabs holding the two pieces of the grill together to reveal that the cracks along the inside were even worse yet.



    In order to make a hidden repair I decided to continue to separate the two grill halves until I had enough room to get the stapler in and repair the front half.  I used a welding magnet wedged in between them to keep the two separated so I had an extra hand to work.



    Using two needle nose locking pliers I was able to hold the two pieces together so they wouldn't move out of place, once I put the first staple in the position of the two pieces it is set in shape.



    I placed three of the wide staples along the flat edge, these will provide the main support.  I've found that once you press the staple into the plastic, push it to the side to completely submerge the metal under the plastic.  Doing this will prevent the staple from pulling straight out of the plastic.




    I removed the two clamps and put two of the narrower staples on each of the edges, placing them here will help prevent any twisting that might occur while driving down the road.



    To remove the staple tails use a pair of heavy duty flush cutters.  Do not use wire cutters, the hardness of the staple will gouge the cutting surface.



    While the two pieces were still separated I had to deal with the rest of the cracked plastic.  Since the majority of the black plastic will not be seen from the outside I was able to put staples on both sides of the cracks for extra support.



    To reconnect the crack that was in the corner, the kit comes with a special staple that is angled to fit directly into a corner.  These are great because corners like this are very prone to cracking and these staples are a very straight forward solution.



    Along the back side I followed the same procedure using both the wide and narrow depending on where each of the cracks were.



    From the factory both pieces of the grill were melted together at each of these tabs.  While disassembling the grill I was forced to cut away the melted plastic to separate them.  To rejoin the two I was able to use one of the narrow staples to melt them back together.



    The grill is now one solid piece again but Its not quite finished yet.  The crack along the plated piece caused the coating to peal off.  Look out for a future article where it will be sanded filled and repainted.


    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW

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  • Quick Tip- Setting Panel Gaps

    Panel Gaps can make or break your impression of a car at a show. No matter how beautiful the paint is, if the panels don't have a good fit and finish the overall appearance of the vehicle will be hurt. There are a couple quick ways we've found to accurately measure and set up your panel gaps. Below are our two favorites that are virtually free!  Click Here To Read Full Post...